Finally got a chance to visit another place off Tainan’s east coast. First place was Hualian and my second trip was a bike trip from Taidong to DuLan. Very scenic ride that is mostly uphill to go and downhill coming back. The ride itself is done along a safe bike path that can get you from the Taitung train station to DuLan.
Have been in Tainan for almost a year now and although Tainan is known to be a bit more laid back than let’s say Taipei, a year of running around in the traffic of this ancient city has played its toll on my nerves. It’s nice to be away from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the calm of the pacific coast. No pollution hazy coming from the mainland and the air feels bright and crisp in my lungs.
My trip started in Taitung (aka Taidong 台東). Took the 3 pm train and arrived at around 8 pm. Had to take the slower train (name) since the medium speed train (name) doesn’t allow bikes as a carry on. Found a B&B even though everyone in town including the 7 Eleven was telling me that it would practically be impossible to find a room since it was Chinese New Year. Was lucky and found a place that was willing to bargain even though it was New Year.
Woke up quite early and had a quick breakfast. Asked a few people to confirm the directions and off I was on a nice bike path, that follows the coastline. The path itself is a mix of small roads next to villages and some broader highways. Biked for a while and was suddenly passed by a team of cyclists riding some amazing looking bikes. They also sounded like high-end road bikes. I could tell by the sound of their gears. The guy heading the crew was quite tall and big. The whizzed by me and I tried to keep up, but my old bike seemed to be riding so slow and couldn’t maintain their speed even though we seemed to be riding downhill. Turns out that the ride from Taidong to Dulan does seem like it has downhill spots, but somewhat of an optical illusion. Validated this upon passing by a small town called 都蘭水上屋 (DuLan Shui Shang Wu) which means DuLan UpWater Room. Had also noticed websites talking about this optical water illusion. A bit like Magnetic Hill in New Brunswick. Was quite taken aback by the wonderful scenery. Felt like home, back in the Maritimes in New Brunswick and in Gaspé, Québec.
Stopped by a few wharfs to relax and chat with a local fisherman. Found out that most were actually from Taidong, but ride their cars or scooters out near DuLan to hang out with their buddies and drink Whispy, a really strong local booze. Talked about the fish and recipes. People seem quite fond of using MiJiu (local rice wine) to balance out flavors or mask what they consider to be the bad taste of let’s say some fish or lamb and the barking deer meat. There are quite a few Aboriginal restaurants and communities when you go ride towards the mountains. The foreigners and local Han Taiwanese seem to be more by the coast and on the main road next to the coast. Overall, this ended up being a nice change of pace from the routine I’ve established in Tainan. Highly suggest people visit the East Coast of Taiwan. The West Coast is quite busy and industrial. Good for shopping and trying out foods at the local markets, but the East Coast has some much more charm.